It happened fast. Jared Katz didn’t have much of a chance to analyze the greatest moment of his football-playing career. But surely the tale could grow with time. The day Katz saved St. Anthony’s winning streak.
Katz came down with a near-goal line interception with 13 seconds left that both preserved St. Anthony’s now 24-game regular season winning streak and robbed Xaverian of a thrilling comeback win in of the of the biggest games of the season. St. Anthony’s (5-0) held off Xaverian, 16-14, Friday night in the Clippers’ home debut.
“It’s at the top right now,” Katz said of were the play ranks among career highlights.
Just when St. Anthony’s appeared to lean its weight on Xaverian (4-2) in the fourth quarter, Xaverian put together a rally that should put to rest any doubts that the team among the state’s elite. Xaverian converted three fourth down plays in the final five minutes before Isaiah Kearney found junior wideout Jonathan Badyna for a 10-yard score to cut the Friars’ lead to 2 with 54.4 left to play.
Peter Tuohy then kept Xaverian alive when he recovered the ensuing onside kick.
But the rally stalled when Katz came down with the ball.
“It was a matter of them making timely plays and us making some untimely mistakes,” Xaverian coach Joe DeSiena said.
Xaverian’s speedy offense gave the Friars all they could handle, led by Kearney’s 155 yards on 20 carries. St. Anthony’s sputtered on offense in the first half, trailing 7-3 at the break, but found a way to return to grinding the ball on the ground, opening the third quarter with a 12-play drive that ate 7 minutes of clock and gave the Friars’ a 9-7 lead. Maston Ellerbe broke loose for a 16-yard touchdown but failed on the two-point conversion.
The mistakes DeSiena talked about went beyond a last-second interception. The Clippers botched the snap on a field goal on the first drive on the game and St. Anthony’s JD Hurt jumped a Xaverian screen play for an interception that let the Friars score a field goal with 14 second left in the half.
St. Anthony’s looked like a different team from the squad that jumped for five false starts in the first half. Dariyan Riley rushed 13 times for 120 yards after missing three games with an ankle injury. Riley broke a 32-yard run that allowed Anthony Anderson to score a 1-yard touchdown that made it 16-7 with 8:36 left.
“I thought he was the difference,” Friars’ coach Rich Reichert said. “We were able to pound the ball. That’s what really kept their offense off the field.”
Xaverian turned heads when it knocked off Iona Prep two weeks ago and after five road games, there was a spotlight on Friday’s game. But even in the loss, Xaverian added to its reputation of a quickly-emerging and dangerously athletic team.
“We made a statement tonight,” Kearney said. “We showed other teams that we’re coming. We’re working hard. We were a play away from winning that game.”